That’s not a horseshoe! Give yourself the kudos.


“You have a horseshoe up your arse.”

The number of times I was fed that line growing up could have choked an unshod horse.

It didn’t matter the accomplishment — great grades, a podium finish in sports, or landing the job — anything associated with my success was accredited to luck. And the greater the so-called achievement, the fancier the horseshoe.

I graduated to ‘Golden Horseshoes Up The Wazoo’ status whenever my school work won an award, which wasn’t often. But since I own a few plaques and maybe a handful of statues, I must be good at rolling the dice. “Hey, I’m on the honour roll again!” Time to congratulate my horseshoe.

On the flip side of ‘success being about luck’, failure was mine to own. A poor grade, not making the team, or losing a job was my fault, my cross to bear. If only I had studied harder, worked longer, or practiced sooner I wouldn’t have failed, faltered, or lost. Failure was my bad, not bad luck.

Looking back it’s clear that discrediting one’s success while owning only failure is a broken way of thinking, or in my case, a one way ticket to depressionville.

Sure, glossing over the good while facing one’s faults is a way to raise a humble, non-arrogant kid. Learning from mistakes is a fantastic life lesson. Dusting off the dirt after a face plant is character building. Taking constructive criticism can make your stuff stellar.

But I knew something was amiss the day my teenage self scored a goal in an emotionally charged soccer shootout. When the checkered ball left my foot and flew effortlessly above the goalie between the posts, my teammates danced with glee. Rather than celebrate, I ran over to the dejected goaltender and apologized for the “lucky shot” — a shot I had practiced for years. Saying, “I’m sorry” is a very Canadian thing to do. Not participating in my success was my thing to do. And over the years I’ve done it well.

If you think playing soccer with a load of horseshoes hiked up your arse shortens your stride, try finding the confidence as an entrepreneur to self-promote your stuff. Heck, go on live national television and tell people why they should listen to you. Yeah, good luck with that.

So where am I going with this?

“Luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity.” This quote is attributed to Roman philosopher Seneca, although he probably said it in Latin.

Since ‘preparation meeting opportunity’ has nothing to do with horseshoes and everything to do with effort, I’m going to go and throw shade at so-called ‘lucky breaks’ too.

As luck would have it, my accomplishments aren’t lucky at all. Neither are yours. Hard work and perseverance pay off. If you suffer from “Horseshoe up Arse Syndrome” (I made that illness up) then it’s time to give the shoe the boot.

Here it is, a horseshoe.


I painted it golden, because why not?


And then I buried the hateful thing … where the sun don’t shine.


Love love love,


  1. Rebecca March 29, 2017 at 7:55 am

    Thank you for this fantastic article. Most accurate.

  2. Irene Vrbensky March 29, 2017 at 8:22 am

    Can I share this on my blog. Thank you for sharing your vulnerbility and authenticity. Namaste!
    p.s. love your writing style! (and say “Thank you” and not “Oh, its nothing”. LOL

  3. Susan March 29, 2017 at 8:32 am

    Great post, Kerry. I teach mathematics for education majors, and we have a discussion about using words like “smart” and “gifted” with young students. These are educators’ and parents’ terms for horseshoes. Eastern cultures emphasize struggle, hard work, and tenacity as the valuable pieces of the learning puzzle. In the U.S., you are smart (lucky) or not (unlucky), and there is nothing to be done about it. If 5th-grade-math is easy for you, but 6th-grade-math is not, that means your luck has run out, and you are no longer a smart kid. It is a horribly devastating approach to education.

  4. Michael James March 29, 2017 at 8:32 am

    I’m used to others telling me how lucky I am. You’re lucky you have a good job. You’re lucky you’re in decent physical shape. I know the work I’ve put into making these things (and other things) true. Hearing those words from others used to bother me, but now it just makes me laugh inside. I try to be realistic about dividing my successes into lucky and the result of hard work. What others say about luck has little effect on my own thoughts. However, I’ve never had to contend with my own thoughts telling me my hard work is irrelevant and I’m just lucky. That must be difficult.

  5. Emily Pemily March 29, 2017 at 9:29 am

    Your horseshoe hit me right in the head… Thanks for the reminder to celebrate successes more and quit revisiting old failures. We all need to be reminded once in a while.

    Go Kerry!

    Team Kerry
    Department of Introverts

  6. N. Weisdorff March 29, 2017 at 9:31 am

    Agreed. A combination of effort, perseverance, and acting on opportunities that come your way, are the ingredients of “luck” to success.

  7. Big Cajun Man (Alan Whitton) March 29, 2017 at 10:20 am

    Hey Kerry. I am very guilty of the “horseshoe up the arse” explanation for things, but in a couple of instances, luck did have a lot to play in my life:
    * Never would have met my wife had I not gone to an event at school, that she wasn’t supposed to be at either
    * Got laid off from Nortel at the right time (3 months later I would have been SCREWED)

    But I have also learned to put a lot of the sharty things in life in that context as well. The other thing I learned (slowly) is that a lot of times the shartiest things that happen, always seem to lead to better things eventually, just wait, and try not to be too hard on myself.

    Different folks show mental health issues in different ways, is an important things for folks to remember as well.

    Keep up the good work, and stay the heck off my lawn ya hippie! 🙂

  8. Diana Johnson March 29, 2017 at 10:21 am

    Many years ago a graduation speaker told our class about serendipity, saying that serendipity favored those that were well prepared.

  9. Len March 29, 2017 at 10:57 am

    Right on Lady

  10. Les Lindquist March 29, 2017 at 11:00 am

    There’s a saying that his been attributed to Thomas Jefferson, Stephen Leacock, Mark Twain, George Allen, Samuel Goldwyn, “old Amish saying” ” “I am a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work, the more I have of it.”
    or a variation …”The harder I work, the luckier I get.”

  11. Les Lindquist March 29, 2017 at 11:18 am

    I appreciate that you have this article filed under Depression. I can relate to the burden that depression can be – when you feel listless, and apathetic about life – not feeling good about yourself because you feel you don’t deserve it. Even after a career of over 30 years in which I won many marketing related awards (based on good performance,) I still had the thought, every two weeks when I got my cheque, “fooled them again.”

    Finally the depression became a self fulfilling prophecy…. my performance did falter because of the depression. It led indirectly to my leaving my job. And I dealt with the depression.

    Sometimes depression can be a kick in the pants telling you to change your situation. Sometimes it can be a reminder you need a change of attitude, as you’ve suggested here. And sometimes it is medical…. in any case, it should be a signal to get help!

  12. Karen March 30, 2017 at 12:28 pm

    If you think bad luck does not exist then you are sadly mistaken. I had one terrible year that just defies everything. During a period of one year my husband was hit by a drunk driver while parked on the side of the road and permanently disabled ( yes we had every kind of insurance), losing his job and our family’s medical and dental benefits. The person who hit him was in the country illegally. My dear mother dropped dead at dance class from sudden heart failure at age 53 (non smoker, non drinker ,always watched her weight and exercised) and my 16 year daughter came home to tell me she was pregnant. All in a span of three months. We went for an ultra scan and she was expecting twins. To top it off we had people who we thought were friends running around gossiping about all these events and implying to others that my husband injuries were faked. After the accident my husband suffered two stokes and a heart attack caused by medication he was given(he was only in his late thirties). He had a metal breakdown. I chose to go for counciling. I was feeling guilty because I was feeling with depressed. The therapist said “Are you kidding me”? Anyone could be depressed in your situation .All of these situations were all out of your control and the fact they have happened close together is extremely bad luck and completely out of your control. How are you coping ? I told her poorly. I confessed the only thing that was keeping me going when getting up in the night to help with the babies as well as still working and caring for my other two children(5 kids including a sick husband) was constantly repeating to myself “thank God it wasn’t seven babies”. All these things happened the year that lady in The U.S. had the multiples(7).

  13. Aceling March 31, 2017 at 11:03 pm

    Dear Karen Says: I hope things are slowly getting better. Life is certainly not fair. We all have our challenges and I have fought my way during and through depression and anxiety, and at 65+, it’s not over yet. Yep, The Golden Years are… For all of you us who follow Squawkfox and share our stories, it is a wonderful way to show support and community in a very complex and messed up world, but we are strong. Bless you all!

  14. Charles Whitford April 4, 2017 at 11:31 am

    Well said Kerry
    Gods Blessings

  15. Carol Shetler April 4, 2017 at 11:50 am

    I am also proof that hard work, and keeping an eye out for opportunities, and making them myself, is the key to “luck”. I have toiled away as a freelance editor, often for no pay, just acknowledgments, for several authors.This year has been different. The people who have paid me for my work are the ones getting the recognition: one has now won a Science Fiction award, and another has her first manuscript being prepared to send to a bonafide publishing house. Neither of them would have those kudos without me. Plus, they have helped me continue to find work by mentioning me to other writers. I have edited two full books of short stories for yet another writer, who paid me over $500 for my work! Yippee! So my hard work is now starting to literally “pay off” in measurable income. And my learning curve is going up and up – I come out a better editor after each contract than I was before. So for sure, “luck” had little to do with my success, just hard work, perseverance and patience.

  16. Rhonda Grice June 3, 2017 at 6:17 pm

    I have to say this blog post really hit home and I laughed out loud when you said you buried it where the sun don’t shine! I have always been a hard worker and just assumed that others were too, but they aren’t.

    Most people today say they wish they had wealth or even health, but sit on their behinds and don’t work toward that goal. I know…I was that way for a while myself. Thanks for the article, it really made me feel better about the accomplishments I do have. Seems Like I’m always comparing mine to someone who’s done better. Thanks!

  17. Lee Benhayon August 31, 2017 at 12:16 pm

    You know, I was just telling a friend this recently. I completed a difficult training program that many people fail to finish. When I told her I was done, she said “Congratulations, you’re so lucky!”. I gave her a cold look and said that luck had nothing to do with it. She couldn’t understand where I was coming from. I told her luck is for people who fail to prepare and that telling someone “you’re lucky” is not a compliment of any sorts. If anything, you’re rendering all of that person’s hard work to just fate.

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